(The following blog post is from M.K. Welch, Sports Talk Show Host at ESPN Aberdeen)

One of the major conversations around the nation right now is the new NFL kickoff rule. I started talking about this rule when it was announced last march, and I’ve been livid about it ever since. This was a discussion that was in the forefront of national media until Miami and Nevin Shapiro blew up sports media. Unlike the national media, I have not forgotten what this rule change really means.

The new rule states that kickoffs are now to be taken from the 35 yard line instead of the 30. The majority of kicks last season went in between the 5 yard line and the endzone. That means that you are going to see a massive amount of touchbacks this year. That will take the field position part out of the game and make potent offense the dominating factor of building an NFL team. This has already become an offensively driven league, and, at first, I thought we were moving to a point where the NFL was going to become only about QBs and WRs.

We are still moving toward that point, but after the CBA negotiations, I figured out that the NFL has something much bigger in mind and this rule change is one of the first dominos to fall to make this happen.

I have already seen a number of fans say, forget it, just start the drive from the 20, why even have a kickoff. That is exactly what the NFL wants you to be thinking. They want you to say, “Oh well, who cares anymore.” By doing that, they can take away the kickoff and make the game “safer” for players.

Since when have the owners ever cared about the players? This is much bigger than player safety.

The end game for the owners continues to be an 18-game season, even if they deny it. By eliminating the kickoff, a large amount of the special teams players are no longer needed. That means that teams can create more depth at all positions while still keeping the roster around 53 players. This is important because of money. If the owners are forced to add players to the rosters to play 18 games, it doesn’t make sense money wise. The whole point of playing an 18-game season is to make more money, the owners wont make more money if they have to field larger rosters. If the owners eliminate special teams players, then they can sell the idea with depth while not having to pay more players.

Some might say this sounds like a reach, but there is more than enough history of the owners pulling these kinds of snake in the grass moves to support my claim.